Millennials are often labeled with negative stereotypes. They’re seen as cocky, narcissistic, entitled or unfocused. As a millennial myself, I can say that I definitely understand where they come from.
After I graduated college, right smack in the middle of the Great Recession, I honestly felt hopeless. Four years, a degree and thousands of dollars later, there I was without a career path. My sense of entitlement was quickly shattered as I was forced to revert back to working in restaurants and living with my parents.
Though a personal anecdote, many millennials struggle through this same scenario, even with the economy slowly improving. So what do millennials do when oppressed? We follow in the steps of the Baby Boomers that raised us—we do what it takes to make ends meet, even if that means taking a gamble to create our own business. We see starting a business as a risk-versus-reward challenge—and that intrigues us.
In a recent study done by Bentley University, 66 percent of millennials polled said they wanted to start their own business and 37 percent said they’d like to own their own business.
Entrepreneurship has been on the rise in recent years, and there’s a host of reasons why my generation feels compelled to create its own future:
Chaos and instability in the corporate world are some of the biggest factors that are propelling millennials toward entrepreneurship. For many years, we’ve seen our family or friends struggle with keeping their jobs because of economic layoffs. That job insecurity terrifies us. But something else that terrifies us is the notion of the corporate ladder.
Millennials are seen as job hoppers which makes us appear disloyal to our employers, but that’s not necessarily the case. The idea of starting from the bottom and working your way to the top is antiquated to us. If we don’t see opportunity for growth, security or the benefits we want, we’ll jump ship and find a new position elsewhere. According to Bentley University’s study, only 13 percent of millennials want to strive to climb that ladder to become CEO; the rest prefer to pursue growth by means of entrepreneurship.
Balance and Benefits
The lack of benefits and work/life balance is also causing millennials to go out and create their own careers. We see starting a business as an opportunity for us to create an environment where we can get the benefits that are so important to us. When choosing between two equal jobs, millennials chose the following factors as most important:
- 96% said flexible work hours
- 96% said great healthcare benefits
- 94% said frequent salary increases
- 86% said a fun and social office environment
- 82% said rapid promotions
- 78% ability to work from home
Millennials are focused on harnessing the benefits of technology to make their lives better. Whether it be the ability to work from home, have flexible work hours or use online meeting tools to stay constantly connected, millennials are on a mission to create the perfect work/life balance.
An improving economy has been an enticing element when it comes to the decision to start a business. Back in 2011, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation polled Americans ages 18-24 on their thoughts about entrepreneurship and economy. The poll revealed that 54 percent wanted to either start a business or they had already started one. Fifty-one percent of those who had not yet started a business said they would start one in the next five years, citing an unstable economy for the delay.
Fast forward to 2015 and funding a business has become much easier. Millennials have access to alternative financing like crowdfunding and private equity is readily available. The consequences of failure are less significant as well because we see starting a business as a learning opportunity. Even if the business crashes and burns, we feel we can gain more knowledge in two years than sitting in a cubicle for 20 years, hoping for career development.
Millennials are an interesting generation of people. Yes, we’re cocky, but that confidence and sense of entitlement drives us to get what we think we deserve. We use our innovation, our technology savvy and experiences with instability to improve our chances at a career that fosters a workplace that we’re comfortable with.
Starting a business is a gamble with many risks involved, but this generation is a group of progressive people who are seeking to make a better workplace for themselves and their peers by any means possible.
Ready to learn more about the millennial generation? Download our two of our free eBooks:
Operation Millennials: A Field Guide: Learn how to lead this unique set of workers for growth and advancement of your business.
Millennials Career Guide: How to Find, Get and Keep the Job You Want: If you’re a millennial looking for a new career, check out these top tips on landing and keeping a gig you’ll love.